Saturday, August 30, 2014

Classes Break!

Dear Readers,

I am in the process of taking a few classes and I have found it necessary to step away from this blog. Please do not forget about me, I will be back during the month of December, 2014! Until then, please reread my posts, stay close to the Lord by reading His Word and by prayer! I appreciate you all and I look forward to returning!

Blessings, Dear Ones!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Everyone Who Thirsts, Come to The Waters!

This week's portion from the prophets, Isaiah 54:11-55:5, is brimming with wonderful nuggets from the Lord! Here are two examples.

1. Isaiah 54:11-14 (KJV)
11 O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires.
12 And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones.
13 And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.
14 In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee.

The afflicted "one" in this passage is Jerusalem. Although it is tossed with tempest and not comforted, things will change. The description that follows speaks of beauty, peace, and righteousness. It is hard to miss the similarities with the description of Jerusalem in Revelation.

Revelation 21:4,6-7,18-21 (KJV)
4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
18 And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.
19 And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald;
20 The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.
21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.

This is what God's people have to look forward to!

2. Isaiah 55:1-4 (KJV)
1 Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
2 Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.
3 Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.
4 Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people.

Mankind thirsts for God, whether we know it or not. We try all kinds of things in life hoping to find that satisfying "something." We spend money. We labor for it, but everything falls short. However, the answer is easy. We only need to listen and come to God! It is a free gift! Then He will make an everlasting covenant with us and our souls will delight in fatness. Verse 4 also tells us that the gift is a person, one who would be a witness, a leader, and a commander to the people. He is our Messiah. Those who have heard God's message and have come to the satisfying waters, know that that person is Yeshua!

But there are more nuggets! More passages of encouragement and hints at God's essence are there for us to read. Why not partake, today?!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Doing What is Right in Your Own Eyes

Although Christians hold to a general body of rights and wrongs or moral code, they seem to have difficulty in identifying what that code exactly is. Some will cling to the Ten Commandments, but others shun the Old Testament completely and believe that the Law of Christ, loving God and one's neighbor, is the only true guideline that we have. Add to this Paul's cryptic "Christian liberty," and you have individual Christians running around, all deciding for themselves, their own code of morals and ethics. We also have the "thou shalt not judge" anyone enthusiasts, leaving true believers without a clue as to how we really are to live, at least in the details.

From Torah portion, "Re'eh - Behold" we read the following:

Deuteronomy 11:26-28 (KJV)
26 Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse;
27 A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day:
28 And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.

From this we see that God had given the Israelites detailed descriptions on how they were to live. They would be blessed if they obeyed God's commandments and would be cursed if they did not. God also said this:

Deuteronomy 12:8 (KJV)
8 Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes.

"Doing what is right in your own eyes" is clearly an idea that God despises. Yet, this is often how Christianity determines what is right and wrong.

"Yes, we got a divorce. God wants us to be in a happier place."

"Yes, I buy lottery tickets. If I win, I'll donate some to my church."

"Yes, we're living together. We're saving money and besides, marriage is just a piece of paper anyway."

"Yes, we go to church on Sunday, or Tuesday. God doesn't care what day we worship."

"Yes, I eat bacon. God doesn't care what we eat."

This fuzzy moral code is really a figment of our imaginations. Christians are living contrary to the Word of God and somehow they believe that God is pleased.

Deuteronomy 12:32 (KJV)
32 What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.

What God has commanded, He intended His people to observe and obey. Rather than trying to determine on our own what is right and wrong, He has given us His guidelines in His entire Word, the Bible. It's about time we fully paid attention.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Your Wilderness

Do you ever feel like you are walking through a wilderness? I imagine most of have at some point in our lives. Have you wondered why? Why are things not improving? Where is God?

This week in Torah portion "Ekev", we read:

Deuteronomy 8:5 (KJV)
5 Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee.

When these words were spoken to the people of Israel, God had been recounting to a new generation how their fathers had been freed from bondage in Egypt, how they had sinned greatly in their journey through the wilderness, and how they had been punished by continuing in the wilderness for 40 years. Yet, at that time, they stood on the threshold of crossing into the Promised Land. God explained how the people needed to live as they built new homes and new lives. He explained why their fathers had had to remain in the wilderness for so long, and he gave them instructions on how they were not to forget what had happened to their fathers.

God wanted this new generation to know that their fathers had been chastened. Although this word can carry the negative connotation of punishment, God's intent was reform, or more accurately, discipline. God's Word is the Torah, which means "instruction." It is our instruction to holy living. Yet if we violate God's instructions, there are consequences. Although sometimes God punishes, His intent if for our improvement.

However, we should not think that all wilderness experiences are because of sin. Sometimes, God just needs to teach His people something that can best be learned by hard knocks.

Deuteronomy 8:2-4 (KJV)
2 And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.
3 And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.
4 Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years.

God is a teacher! He provided for the Israelites' every need. They had to learn to rely on Him, because there was no other help for them in the desert. He allowed this wilderness experience to humble them, to test them, and to find out where their hearts were focused. Would they love God with all their hearts, would they follow His commands, and would they trust Him? When they arrived in the Promised Land, food and resources would be in abundance. If they had not learned to follow God, in trust, during the wilderness, they would probably not follow Him during the good times.

If you are going through the wilderness, make sure there is no sin that is responsible for where you are. If there isn't any sin, trust that God has a purpose for your wilderness experience. He could be trying to teach you something. Just continue to live according to the Word of God and trust Him! He will, in His time, lead you through the wilderness safely!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Blessing After Meals

Deuteronomy 8:10-18 (KJV)
10 When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the LORD thy God for the good land which he hath given thee.
11 Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day:
12 Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein;
13 And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied;
14 Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage;
15 Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint;
16 Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end;
17 And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth.
18 But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.

When I was a little girl, my family faithfully prayed before every meal. Although it was a rote prayer, it established in my heart, the need for thanksgiving to God. In that prayer we asked God to bless us and our food. We also stated our recognition that it came from Him. However, God's commands in this area are a little different. Deuteronomy 8:10 says that we are to bless God after we have eaten and that we are to thank Him for the good land which He has given. Consequently, the Jews have traditionally blessed God before eating, but have ended meals by praying a significantly longer prayer called the "HaMazon."

From Deuteronomy 8 we also see the reason for this command. It is so that we do not forget where our many blessings come from and assume our blessings are the product of our own means (verses 11 & 17). You see, once we forget to bless God and thank Him for the land, our food, and all our blessings, not only do we forget that God is the responsible party, but we begin to forget God in all the other areas of our lives. God is removed from the throne of our hearts, and God is no longer our first love. May this never be!

First Blessing of HaMazon

Blessed are You, YHVH, our God, King of the universe, Who nourishes the entire world, in His goodness -- with grace, with kindness, and with mercy. He gives nourishment to all flesh, for His kindness is eternal. And through His great goodness, we have never lacked, and may we never lack nourishment, for all eternity. For the sake of His Great Name, because He is God Who nourishes and sustains all, and benefits all, and He prepares food for all of His creatures which He has created. Blessed are You, YHVH, Who nourishes all.  (Artscroll translation - Women's Siddur)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

God Isn't Done With Israel!

There is a large part of the church that believes that God is finished with Israel. After all, the Jews failed to uphold the covenant, right? They practiced idolatry and God punished them by exile. When Yeshua came, they failed to recognize Him as Messiah. Now the blessings that were reserved for Israel passed on to the church, right?


In our haftarah portion for this week (Isaiah 40:1-26), God said:

Isaiah 40:1-2 (KJV)
1 Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.
2 Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD'S hand double for all her sins.

Although Israel had received double for all her sins, she was to be comforted, her warfare would be ended, and her iniquity would be pardoned.

Isaiah 40:9-11 (KJV)
9 O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!
10 Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.
11 He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.

This promise given to Israel speaks about God's return and His Kingdom. She (Israel) was not to be afraid, for He would come with a strong hand and His arm would rule. He would feed His flock like a shepherd, He would gather the lambs and carry them, and He would gently lead those with young.

This passage is very reminiscent of John 10:14 where Yeshua claims that He is the good shepherd.

John 10:14-16 (KJV)
14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.
15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.
16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

Believers have correctly claimed Yeshua as their shepherd, but Isaiah clearly shows this promise was for Zion. How can both be true? Verse 16 indicates that the original fold must be Israel, but there is another fold that would also be brought in. This second fold is made up of Gentile believers. Yeshua said that the two folds would become one and that He was the one shepherd.

If most of the church believes that Israel has no further place in God's promises, what hope does the church have? Not only has Israel been guilty of idolatry, but the church has as well. If God can remove Israel from His promises, He can also remove the church!

The idea that God is finished with Israel is not Biblical, nor is the idea that God's promises to Israel now belong to the church. Praise God, we Gentiles can be gathered into the sheepfold of Israel and all those who believe in Messiah Yeshua can stand on God's promises! They will not fail!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

God's Law is Grace

Most people recognize that law, in general, is good. Justice and order can result when a society is governed by law, but without it, society would be in chaos. However, human nature has a tendency to rebel against law. We also sort law into categories of "necessary", "acceptable", and "stupid", and base our law-abiding behavior on those laws that make sense to us.

The law that man makes is not always just, sometimes it becomes corrupt and perverted, but God's law is always just and good. Still, mankind often desires to rebel or to find reasons why obedience is not necessary.

This seems to be the situation in the church today. An entire theology has been developed in order to explain why the Torah is no longer applicable. Well-meaning and sincere believers in Messiah read the Bible from a Greek perspective, ignore its Jewish base, misunderstand texts that are used to prove the Torah's obsolescence, and then ignore those texts that prove Torah is still necessary. The bottom line is that we want to reduce the law to its smallest number and then become our own determiners of the standards in those areas outside the purview of our whittled down law. We are trying to usurp God's own role!

The Torah portion of this week is called, V'et'chanan, which means "I pleaded." The portion covers Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11.

This title comes from the Hebrew root "chanan," which is often translated as "grace." In traditional Christianity grace and law are seen as opposites, yet this is a very incorrect and skewed view. God has been extending grace to mankind since the very beginning of creation, it did not start with Messiah's human birth or His death and resurrection. The most visible evidence of God's grace to us, besides Messiah's gift of salvation, is His written Word, the Bible. Therefore, the Torah, the law of God, is a gift of grace to us. Each law, each sentence, and each word demonstrates God's love toward us. He has shown us how he wants us to live and how we can please Him.

So why don't we accept His gift? Why do we want to be the deciders of what is right and wrong when God has already told us?

Deuteronomy 4:5-8 (KJV)
5 Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it.
6 Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.
7 For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for?
8 And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?

If we decide our own standards, how will we fulfill this passage of Scripture, that says obedience to Torah is to be the reason why the nations take notice?

And how can we fulfill the following in the end times?

Isaiah 2:2-3 (KJV)
2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.
3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

If we want to be witnesses and show our neighbors that we are truly different, we need to start practicing Torah living. It cannot save us, but it is the evidence of salvation.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Romans 16:21-27 - Conclusion

Romans 16:21-27 (KJV)
21 Timotheus my workfellow, and Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute you.
22 I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord.
23 Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you. Erastus the chamberlain of the city saluteth you, and Quartus a brother.
24 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
25 Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,
26 But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:
27 To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.

As Paul came to the very end of his letter, he recorded further greetings to the Roman believers. This time, the greetings came from Timothy, his fellow worker, and Jason and Sosipater, his kinsmen (verse 21). Also, Tertius, who physically wrote Paul's letter (or epistle), sent a greeting (verse 22). Gaius, his host, and the whole church, the Corinthian church (Paul probably wrote this letter while in Corinth.) sent greetings. Erastus, the chamberlain (or treasurer) of the city and Quartus, a fellow believer, with whom Paul apparently felt very close, finished out Paul's list of greetings (verse 23). Paul prayed, "may the grace of our Lord, Messiah Yeshua, be with you all. Amen" (verse 24).

Lastly, Paul prayed, "To Him, who has power to establish the Roman believers according to the Gospel message that I had outlined, and the preaching of Messiah Yeshua, according to the revelation of the mystery (hidden until now) (verses 25 & 26), and by the Scriptures as recorded by the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, the good news has been made known to all nations, that would lead to the obedience of faith in Messiah; to God the only wise one, be glory through Messiah Yeshua forever! Amen! (verse 27).